Public law 94-142 clearly defines the rights of handicapped children and their parents A fundamental provision of the law is the right for parents or guardians to be involved in the educational decision-making process for their children, including the right to:

  • A free, appropriate public education for the child. Free means at no cost to the parents. Appropriate means meeting the unique educational needs of the child.
  • Be notified whenever the school wishes to evaluate the child or to change the child’s educational placement, or refuse a request for an evaluation or for a change in placement.
  • Initiate an evaluation if they think their child is in need of special education or related services.
  • Informed consent. Informed consent means parents understand and agree in writing to the evaluation and educational program decisions for their child. The consent is voluntary and may be withdrawn at any time.
  • Obtain an independent evaluation if parents disagree with the outcome of the school’s evaluation.
  • Request a re-evaluation if parents suspect their child’s present educational placement is no longer appropriate. The school must re-evaluate the child at least every three years, but the child’s educational program must be reviewed at least once during each calendar year.
  • Have the child tested in the language he or she knows best. Also, students who are deaf have the right to an interpreter during the testing.
  • Review all of the child’s records. Parents may obtain copies of these records, but the school may charge a reasonable fee for making copies. Only parents and those persons directly involved in the education of the child are permitted access to personal records. If parents feel that any of the information contained in their child’s records is inaccurate, misleading, or violates the privacy or other rights of the child, they may request that the information be changed. If the school refuses a request, parents then have the right to request a hearing in order to challenge the questionable information in their child’s records.
  • Be fully informed by the school of all rights that are provided under the law.
  • Participate in the development of the child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). The school must make every possible effort to notify parents of the IEP meeting and to arrange it at a time and place that is convenient for them. Remember, a child’s IEP cannot be implemented without the parent’s written consent.
  • Have the child educated in the most normal school setting possible. Every effort should be made to develop an educational program which will provide the greatest amount of contact with non-handicapped children.
  • Request a due process hearing to resolve differences with the school that cannot be resolved informally.